The door knocks. You walk slowly to the door because on the other side, you hear a strange whining sound. Slowly, you open – and what a sight – horror of all horrors, it’s a devil dog. Or should I say, a dog dressed as a devil. Or perhaps it’s a dog with a Lady Gaga-like wig.
Increasingly, dogs are joining with the two-legged kids trick or treating. And often those dogs are dressed up. But is that really a good idea? Who’s asking the dogs?
Here’s the first test. Put a costume on your pup. If your dog stands stiff, tail tucked, ears back, essentially acting humiliated – your dog might just be exactly that. Worse, may be if the family stands around pointing and laughing. No one likes to be laughed at.
However, what if the dog wiggles with delight dressed up as a postal carrier? It’s true, many dogs absolutely relish the attention, and family members can enhance the experience by offering little treats as the costume goes on, and telling your dog how cute she looks. Some dogs truly have a blast trick or treating.
However, some normally social dogs are frightened by little people dressed as ghouls and goblins. These dogs aren’t the best candidates for trick or treating. Be honest about your dog’s real temperament. It’s unfair to other trick or treaters, and to your dog if you force your dog into joining in on trick or treating.
If ever there’s an appropriate time to remind to microchip pets (for permanent identification), Halloween is a good one. Many dogs and cats bolt through the constantly opening door, and are lost. Shelters who find pets scan them for a microchip (that’s why not forgetting to register with the microchip provider is key – since you want your contact to appear when the pet is scanned). For both dogs and cats, having a flat buckle collar and an ID is also a good idea, so if a neighbor down the street finds the pet – the pet might be returned directly to you without a shelter visit.
So much may vary on the temperament of the pet – some pets actually revel in the commotion and constant doorbell ringing with little spooks on the other side of the door. Others pets bark non stop or become frightened. For pets who are afraid, it’s best to put them off in a room downstairs, upstairs or at the other end of the house or apartment, and close the door. Perhaps, turn on talk radio for some “white noise” or classical music – which may be calming. Plug in diffuser pheromone products (such as Dog Appeasing Pheromone or Feliway) just to take the edge off. Or simply disconnect your doorbell.
For dogs, appropriate chew toys (perhaps stuffed with treats) may be a great distraction.
Some cats and dogs are actually happier or at least more secure inside a carrier, though that’s not typically the case. For cats, another idea is to re-locate them into a far away room – and litter that room with a few empty boxes which they may jump into at their own will if they’re feeling insecure, or jumping inside the box may be an interesting game. For some cats, catnip may provide momentary relief from the Halloween stress.
While it’s always safer to keep cats indoors, there are reports – substantiated or not – of cruelty to cats over Halloween, particularly black cats. Odds are this is an urban myth – but no matter, with increased foot traffic and noise in the neighborhood, and sometimes increased auto traffic – there’s no doubt cats are safer and perhaps more content inside.
Here are some tips on keeping your pets safe on Halloween:
- Aromas from lit candles can cause respiratory distress and even death in pet birds.
- Cats jumping on tables might knock over a lit candle and cause a house fire.
- Goodie Bags: While a stash of candy may not be the best thing for kids, some of what’s in those Halloween bags may be very hazardous to pets. Even ingesting only a little bit of an artificial sweetener called Xylitol (mostly used in sugarless gum) is dangerous.
- That seemingly innocuous box of raisins may be a healthy treat for children, but raisins can make some dogs very sick.
- Dogs who enjoy candy don’t usually stop munching after a few pieces, and too much candy (not to mention often eating the wrappers and all) can cause an upset tummy. If there’s chocolate involved, the outcome may be worse since chocolate is toxic (particularly dark chocolate). Keep the candy in a secure place, away from Fido – even if that means opening a safety deposit box at a nearby bank.